The environment influences our behaviour. What we do, who we are with and even where we are all influence what we do. Part of retraining the brain is making sure you have the best possible environment in which to do so. A safe environment will result in the positive mental and emotional state necessary for long term behaviour change.
A pre-performance ritual prepares the body and the brain to focus on the task at hand. It helps to decrease anxiety and stress on undertaking an unknown or stressful activity because it helps you believe you can be successful. While many professional athletes and performers understand the value of the pre-performance ritual, anyone can use this technique. The ritual or behaviour initiates the neurological pathways for calmness and concentration. In other words the behaviour triggers the neurological pathways for emotion and thought processing.
The importance of this technique is not in the ritual itself but in the belief that it will work. Remember the 1987 loonie at centre ice in the 2002 Olympic winter games? That was the year Sidney Crosby shot the puck in the shoot out and we won a gold. The belief in the loonie under the ice resulted in millions of people believing we were going to win gold. It felt good to know we had a secret weapon under the ice and it felt even better after the gold medal game.
Many of us use a pre-performance ritual, we just don’t realize we do until we pay attention to it. We also don’t use it to it’s full advantage until we are cognisant of it. The great thing about it, is that the more you focus on developing one for yourself the better it works.
Over the last 2 years and after trying out a number of different pre-performance rituals, I settled on one that is working for me. Before any class, workshop, presentation or meeting I take a deep breath, paste a smile on my face and say, “Let’s do this!” I no longer get so anxious before a performance that my mind goes blank and I panic because I have forgotten everything.
What do you do for a pre-performance ritual? How do you line up your behaviour, emotions and thoughts for focus and calmness? There are endless possibilities and I would love to know what you do, so drop me a line.